Career Corner

Where can you go with a liberal arts degree? What options are out there for Lawrence graduates? The Career Corner tells the stories of some almni who have found answers to these questions and proves that, yes, there is a job out there for you.Feeling a bit nervous about how your major will fit with your career after Lawrence? Alum Dave Hoffman is a good example of how you can put your Lawrence education to work.

Hoffman graduated from Lawrence with a double major in English and Biology, and a double minor in Philosophy and Chemistry. “I was kind of ambivalent about what I wanted to do,” said Hoffman. He just knew he had interests in very different areas.

After graduation, Hoffman left Appleton to take graduate courses at Madison in the field of genetics, an interest that had been facilitated through a previous summer course.

While at Madison, Hoffman held a job as a receptionist at the local YMCA. It was then that he met a man who had quit a successful career in advertising to go back to school and study social work.

Inspired by this man’s actions, Hoffman decided that social work interested him, as well. He then applied and was accepted to an internship at Winnebago State Hospital.

After the internship, Hoffman attended graduate school at the University of Chicago studying social work From there, he got a job in Milwaukee at Family Services, where he remained for 38 years, 28 of which he was executive director of the program.

Hoffman feels that most people who go into social work usually have a social science major in undergraduate schooling. He added, “Social work is usually considered a female position as an alternative to teaching and nursing. An awful lot of people who go into social work want to become family counselors.”

But students should not feel limited by what it typical for the field, he says, and Hoffman is proof.

“I am a strong believer in liberal arts education,” said Hoffman. “I had no social science whatsoever.” Instead, he feels that it was his English major that was his greatest asset when dealing in social work. “It’s through great authors that you come to a better understanding of the human condition,” said Hoffman.

Lawrence, Hoffman learned the valuable lesson of being involved with the community. He was involved with the editorial board of The Lawrentian and set up the first representative student government. At the time, the student body was only represented through Greek organizations.

Hoffman carried his leadership skills over to his work. At Family Services, he started a nationally accredited postgraduate training program in family therapy, the first in the Midwest and now one of the oldest in the country.

Hoffman feels that the field of social work is a better now than when he began. “The positives in the field of social work are that… there is much more research as to what actually helps people. When I began it was mostly theory. Now it’s mostly evidence-based,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman was a transfer student to Lawrence during his sophomore year, and says he has only two regrets: petitioning to not take Freshman Studies and not being able to take a class in Shakespeare.

Retired for two years, Hoffman now focuses on his new goal: running a marathon in every state.